What I Learned About Life & Love From Living In Bali For A Year

what I learned from living in Bali
Photo by Mango Moon Photography for Shani Jay

What I learned from living in Bali could be written about for months, and make up a whole book.

That’s the power of breaking habits, following your soul path, and daring to do something that seems a little crazy to the outside world.

I always dreamed of taking a year out, and travelling the world. But somehow, like it always does, life just got in the way.

I prioritised my education and career above adventure and play. There was never a good time to drop everything and go. So exploring took a back seat.

I never thought I would be someone who could look back and say, I quit my job, and moved to Bali for a year.

Who is that woman? She sounds far too much of a risk-taker and a cool kid to be me.

But I made that happen. I trusted my intuition, and I followed my heart across the world.

For once in my life, I allowed myself not to have everything mapped out; and it paid off. Big time.

Here’s what I learned about life and love from living in Bali for a year

1. There is more to life than sitting in a cubicle every day

The year before travelling to Bali, I had just quit my job as a fashion designer in the UK, and was transitioning into freelance writing.

Truth be told, it had been a long time coming. I had felt miserable and trapped for about 15 months before I finally walked out those doors for the last time.

Moving to Bali was a random dream I had one day, and I thought to myself, why not do it?

So I did.

Living out there helped me see that there is so much beyond having a 9-5 and working in an office every day.

I was doing work that brought me joy and filled me up, while exploring a new island, meeting interesting people from all walks of life, and living what can only be described as a vacation lifestyle.

Part of me always knew that there was more out there, but taking the leap and following my heart to Bali confirmed it for me.

2. Pushing yourself to do things that scare you is where the magic is

I had no idea what Bali would be like, or if I would even like it. When I arrived with my partner, we literally had no plans at all. No villa organised, no idea of where we would go, and no real plan about growing our businesses. That in itself was a little daunting, but incredibly liberating too.

While I was there I did my very first photo-shoot for my books and my website, I dreamed up the idea for my first retreat, and I launched my empowerment coaching offering.

We went surfing for the first time, I drove a scooter for the first time (even though I was very nervous!), and I met up in person with women I had met through social media – which is way out of my comfort zone.

What I learned from living in Bali is, embracing your discomfort is how you grow. When you push past the nerves and fears, magic is waiting for you on the other side. And it’s more beautiful than you can imagine.

3. Having a morning ritual is powerful

I don’t know if it was merely a coincidence, but being in Bali made me want to nourish myself more, and fill my well up. And I ended up creating a wonderful morning ritual for myself – kind of by accident.

I ended up journaling every morning, writing a gratitude list, meditating, and sometimes doing some yoga too. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but this helped to ground and centre me each day. Plus, it fuelled my creative energy. And the effects of this flowed into everything I did for the rest of the day.

Sometimes I would spend two hours on my morning ritual if it felt right and good to me. I’d never been so luxurious with my time before, and would usually think I needed to be doing something more “productive”. But something within was telling me I needed this time and space – so I honoured that.

What I learned from living in Bali was that being is just as important as doing.

4. It’s possible to make money on your own terms

I always dreamed of being able to work from anywhere I liked, or run my own business, and make money. And I hated relying on some asshole to pay me at the end of each month, in exchange for all my precious time and effort.

But I struggled for years to see another way. I didn’t believe in myself enough to try and make it on my own. My toxic money story had me convinced it was difficult to make money, and that it was scarce.

When I landed in Bali in late December 2017, I was just about getting by on the money I was earning from freelancing; which was better than nothing. By the time I left Bali a year later, I had doubled my income, and was making money on my own terms. Through selling my books, coaching packages, and retreats.

Living in Bali showed me this dream I had was possible. Because it was now my reality.

The act of trusting my intuition, disrupting my routine, and shifting my perspective is what got me there.

5. The world is in need of the divine feminine

While living in Bali, I learned a lot about the cycle of the moon, astrology, and energy. More specifically, I learned about masculine and feminine energy. The qualities of each, and how they complement one another.

The masculine is driven, focused, and direct. He represents action. While the feminine is nourishing, receptive, and focused on community. She represents feeling and flow.

One cannot exist harmoniously without the other, but our society has almost entirely been constructed on masculine principles; with a disregard for the feminine. And this has led to a warped, toxic version of the masculine playing out. We see this in war, oppression of women, inequality, greed, and a lack of community.

What I learned from living in Bali is, for there to be harmony again, we need the divine feminine. This has led to me deepening my learning and understanding of her – both in my personal life and my sacred work. And she has taught me to live and lead differently.

To live a more spacious life, to tune in to my intuition, to trust higher wisdom I receive, to live in flow with the moon, and to be fluid instead of pushing or pulling.

This is the power of the feminine.

6. There is a world more to yoga than getting abs

I have been practising physical yoga for ten years, but until I moved to Bali, I had no idea there was more to it than this.

We spent about seven months in Ubud, and ended up attending yogic philosophy classes at The Yoga Barn twice a week. It was here that I learned yoga is not really about downward dogs or headstands. It’s about stilling your mind, and connecting to your soul, through source (or the divine, or spirit, or whatever you want to call it).

At its heart, yoga is about love.

Yoga is essentially a faith or way of living. But where religion tends to divide people, yoga brings everyone together. This is what draws me deeper into it every day. And it’s this philosophy that has transformed the way I see myself, my relationships, and my work.

7. Different places have different vibrations

While in Ubud, we encountered many people who would speak about ley lines. These are essentially energetic lines which connect ancient, spiritual, sacred sites across the world. They are said to be Mother Earth’s veins or chakras. When two or more lines pass each other, it is said to be a sacred and powerful place; perhaps even one of healing. And there are 6 ley lines in Bali passing through 6 sights.

I didn’t realise it until I left Bali, but stepping foot on that island has a uniquely powerful vibration to it. I felt elevated, and expansive, and my heart was wide open. And everyone seemed to have been drawn there for a similar reason.

I’ve always been very sensitive to people’s energy, but this was the first time I became acutely aware of the vibration of a physical place. And it was the first time I’d found somewhere that lifted me in such a positive and profound way.

8. Investing money in your growth is never wasted

The more money I took in, the more I invested in myself and my business, and this would create more money.

I invested in a couple of photo shoots for my books, my website, and marketing – and had so much fun working with the photographers I found and making art.

I invested in private coaching sessions with a couple of different coaches. And although I wouldn’t say those sessions directly grew my business; I learned a lot, and I know this has helped me in many subtle ways – personally and in my work.

I also invested in online courses which helped me expand my mind and my learning on different subjects – all of which fed into my business. And I dabbled in ads to promote my books, coaching services, and first retreat.

This virtuous cycle taught me the importance of investing in my self-growth, which is something I used to struggle with. I wouldn’t think twice about spending money on clothes or alcohol, but when it came to course or coaching, my body would tense up. Scarcity would wash over me, and I’d convince myself that if I couldn’t physically hold it or see it, then it was a waste of money.

What I learned from living in Bali is, money spent on your growth is never wasted. The truth is, it’s the best use of the money you have.

9. Take your Saturn Return seriously!

Every 27 to 29 years, the planet Saturn returns to the astrological sign it was in when you were born. This is often viewed as a rite of passage. It’s a chapter in life where you take full responsibility for yourself and your dreams. You grow up, and enter adulthood.

Saturn rules Capricorn – the most ambitious and hard-working zodiac sign of all. He helps us with achieving our goals, and mastering what matters most to us.

Usually, between the ages of 27 and 30, you will experience your Saturn Return, and this will mean slightly different things for you depending on what sign Saturn was in when you were born.

My interest in astrology has only deepened in the past two years, so I wasn’t aware of what a Saturn Return was when I first entered mine.

The strange thing was, Saturn returned to Capricorn (where it was when I was born) on December 19th, 2017. And I ended up on a plane moving to Bali on New Years Eve, just 12 days later.

Saturn finally moved signs – about a month ago – into Aquarius in March 2020. And I spent the past two and a bit years travelling through Bali, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It was during this time that I finally got clear on what matters most to me, and the kind of life I want to live.

There were so many ups and downs along the way. Business ventures that have failed, financial streams drying up, and friction in my relationships. And moments of pure magic. Like surfing at 5AM and watching the sun rise, hosting my first ever retreat 5000 miles away from my hometown, and moving in with my partner Sam, and realising I wanted forever with him.

What I learned from living in Bali was, whether you realise it or not, your Saturn Return will create BIG shift in your life. And you can either choose to bury your head under the covers, or ride the wave.

10. Being in water soothes my soul

Living in Bali was the first time I was lucky enough to have a swimming pool as part of our villa. It was also the first time I started going to the beach regularly, and dipping in the ocean.

And I began to notice the power the water had on me. If I was stressed, excited, angry, frustrated, or exhilarated; I would swim. And this calmed and nourished every part of me.

I know water itself is a powerful element, but I think this was also related to there being a lot of water signs in my birth chart. But regardless of the reason, I discovered something that I enjoyed on every level of my being; something my body and my soul needed. And this influenced the lifestyle we’ve designed for ourselves here in the UK.

We’re a ten minute walk from the beach and ocean. We try and go swimming a couple times a week. And I have been creating more space to enjoy soaking in a bath.

Being in water soothes my soul – it might soothe yours too.

11. Set rates that feel good to you

When we first flew to Bali, I was still struggling to set my rates as a freelance writer. I didn’t believe I had enough experience to set higher ones, and I was scared about losing the small income stream I had.

But I began to realise that I did have significant experience, and I brought a lot to the table. If my clients couldn’t see that, then I needed to find new ones. So that’s exactly what I did.

And I chose not to work with people who didn’t align with my values or ways of working – even if that meant I was turning down lucrative jobs.

When I launched my first retreat in the middle of 2018, my prices were way too low for what I was offering. I didn’t realise this until one of my coaches pointed this out. So I raised them, and I continue to raise them as and when it feels right.

What I learned from living in Bali was, when you’re setting your rates, think about how a number feels to you. And keep playing with it until you hit that sweet spot where it feels just right.

12. You can love someone without saying the words, “I love you”

Sam and I essentially decided to move in together, but to do it in Bali instead of Basingstoke (where we were based in the UK for most of 2017)! And I’m incredibly glad we did.

Moving in with someone in itself creates challenges, because you’re getting used to someone else’s ways and habits, and having them around a lot more. But throw in moving to a foreign country 7000 miles away, and growing two businesses; and things start to get a little chaotic!

We had been together for almost two years when we left, and were in for some tough lessons when it came to our relationship.

Sam was my first boyfriend, so I had all my relationship firsts with him. And up to now, Sam had never said the words, “I love you,” to me. It had gotten to the point where I had given up waiting because they obviously weren’t coming. It was far too late.

Deep down, I believed he loved me. Three words wouldn’t change that, and as a writer, I know better than most people that words can be awfully cheap.

But my heart really needed to hear it, at least once in a while.

Communication has never been my strong point – at least when it comes to voicing things out loud. And back then, Sam hadn’t yet opened up to me, and would rarely show his emotions. There were obvious issues in our relationship, but we wouldn’t talk about them.

But being in Bali helped me grow, and begin to find my voice, and use it more. We opened up conversations that we dared not broach before. We grew closer, and stronger; together. One day, in our villa in Ubud, Sam finally told me he loved me. And now we both say those three words to each other every day.

13. Money is an energy

I don’t know how I used to think of money before, but I know I definitely did not see it as an energy.

All I (thought I) knew was, it caused arguments and power struggles, and it was really hard to make. And it was hard to hold on to.

But then I started to read about money. I read books, listened to audio recordings, and watched videos of people talking about it. And I was introduced to this life changing idea: money is an energy. 

If you’re working in an office, doing the same work lots of other people do, you’re half-assing it most of the time, and what you’re doing isn’t really impacting anyone; then why would you get paid more than $30k a year?

The more energy you create within, and give out, the more energy comes back to you. Everything in this world is energy. Once you realise this, everything in your life changes – if you want it to.

14. Home is not defined by the place you grew up in

Sam and I left our families and friends behind as we flew 7000 miles across the world to Bali. In the past two years, we’ve only spent about three months back in our hometowns.

But even though we didn’t know anyone when we got there, and we were so far away from everything we had always known, Bali began to feel like home to me. I finally felt like I had spread my wings, flown the nest, and embarked on the next chapter of my life.

I remember the night before our flight back to the UK, after our year in Bali, I was feeling many mixed emotions. Of course, I was excited to see everyone back home. But a big part of my heart was sad to leave this place. Because it was a place where we had experienced and grown so much – as individuals, and as a couple.

What I learned from living in Bali is, home is not defined by the place you were born, or the town you grew up in, and have known your whole life.

Home is where you feel like you’re home.

It’s the place where your heart feels light and happy. The place where you feel safe and understood and centred. Home is wherever your soul longs to be.

 

 

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